Beth Meadows

Art as a Business

What's Essential?

Beth MeadowsComment

I'm writing about the following, as I often to, to help me come to a solution. 

I can't figure out what art I should be making. I have ideas for at least ten different types of work. I keep having to ask myself what's essential.

I've even gone so far as to visualize being 80, thinking back on what makes me proud that I've accomplished. I think about the end so I can figure out what I'm supposed to be doing now.

Right now, the reality of my life is that:

1. I am trying to focus on my health- physical and mental.

2. I am trying to focus on income so that I'm not destitute the rest of my life.

3. I'm trying to be self-employed, which I truly believe is my calling, but giving up, at least for now, that it would be completely art-related income. So... trying to start a different business. 

4. Trying to give myself more to healthy relationships in my life. Trying to foster intimacy with a tiny amount of people- something that has been lacking in my life. Art is important, but people are the most important. My good relationships are the most important. 

5. Service to those who need it. 

Then after all that's done- I make artwork. And I think about artwork. And I want to make everything I think about, but there's not enough time to do it all. I can accept that.

So What's Essential? What do I have to make?

Here is a list of ideas:

1. cat cut outs

2. Folksy, spiritual, dark paintings

3. small fashion collages

4. fashion drawings

5. heavy cartoons

6. large narrative paintings

7. large fashion collages

8. these collage text works I have ideas for

9. geometric/ abstract found object works

10. small narrative paintings

11. more little wooden cut outs

12. large scale animal collages

13. wood cut out pet portraits

This is a pretty comprehensive list. 

The narrative paintings keep bugging me. They are hard and laborious and elusive, but they keep bugging me. I know I have to make them, but what if they take up all my extra time? What if I can't make cat cut outs?

The cats don't just serve the purpose of being cute. I practice technique and color combos. They help me with larger works. They are adorable, but they are important. 

I know I will make time for what's essential. I have cut out many things- and now I'm getting to the nitty gritty- I'm cutting back on alcohol and excess food (distracting myself with feeling full to the brim). I am cutting back on Netflix and social engagements. I wake up early to create. I create on the weekends. I am not exhibiting as much. Exhibiting takes up so much time. 

I observe from the list above that I can combine many of the things into each other. I've gotten stuck on this path of making small quick things. I want to sell work. I want to have price points that are low. I love the business side of art, so the small, quicker work allows me to play in that game, which I enjoy. 

But I fear it's keeping me from something deeper I'm wanting to make work about. All the small products symbolize large chunks of time I could devote to larger, more intricate works. 

I also like how small things have an end in sight. When I make a larger work, I don't have a good idea about how long it will take me. I get stuck along the way. It's not as easy to see the next step. But that's really all that it is. One step at a time, over and over, until it's right.

But I've gotten near the end of a large work so many times, and not been happy with where it's gone. You can't hit Undo. You can't use the Paint Bucket to fill in the wrong color. I don't like that aspect of the large works. If I need to change one or two things, it will take hours and hours to fix. 

Is there a way to avoid that? Or is that a part of it? I have a painter friend who says that's what he enjoys most about painting. The editing. I do only when it's small. 

And then this gets me into another subject. Sometimes I feel like I am more a designer than an artist. If I don't like the process of editing... I want a map that shows me the way, directly and in the shortest amount of time. I don't want to waste time, materials, or money. I am thrifty. I don't have a team to help. It's just me. 

 

 

 

Ok, I will let these thoughts rest for now...

Name Your Price

Beth MeadowsComment

If you follow me on social media, I hope you've noticed I've been posting artwork each week that anyone may name their price in order to claim it. It is aptly called "Name Your Price." 

BACKGROUND

A few years ago, I put on a show at Old City Java called Art For the People where I asked people to send me offers for the work. There were two large reasons why I wanted to do this: 

1. One of the greatest challenges of my career is selling artwork in Knoxville. Even with our huge art crawl called First Friday that happens every month, it's a tough town for any artist, especially contemporary and young artists.

But nothing inspires me more than a challenge. It's made me stretch myself and become more creative. "Art for the People" was an innovative way to sell work and learn a little more about what art interests people in Knoxville.

2. While sales are important for me to sustain what I do, Art For the People wasn't only about that. It was also about engagement with people and making artwork accessible to anyone. I wanted to let people make offers so that they could own an original piece of artwork. I also, in general, wanted to hear more from people, and I did!

STUDIO PURGE

I have so much artwork that's accumulated over the 10+ years since college and I'm ready to let it go. I've thrown out a lot of it, but Name Your Price is a way to find homes for some of it that I'm not going to show in exhibitions but someone may still want. 

It's also become very important to me to not look at older work anymore. I'm ready to move forward and make changes in what I'm making...

TRANSITION IN MY CAREER

I've hit a transition period with my work where things are moving a direction I really like. I'm experimenting more, but this means I'm not necessarily making work to to show in a gallery or include in an exhibition, which means I can't easily sustain this time of exploration. This work I'm doing is good and important and so Name Your Price allows me to recoup some expenses so that I can keep moving forward. 

SUPPORT MY WORK

In essence, this is a great way to support my artistic endeavors while I'm in, what feels a little like limbo. It's a really good limbo, but this work just feels like something I can't easily put a price on, so I'm asking you to. 

HOW IT WORKS

It's a work in progress, but NYP happens every Wednesday. I post a photo of the artwork available on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with a link to my website giving more details about the piece. There's a form there to fill out with your name, email, and the price you'd like to offer. The highest offer will claim the piece.

I'm working out all the details, but each time there is a deadline to make your offer. It might be the same day or you may have a few days.

An hour or so before NYP closes, I send an email to anyone who has made an offer to let them know what the highest offer price is. This gives them a chance to counter offer if they want.

IMPORTANT DETAILS

  1. You can offer any amount. My hope is that this will be a number that is a good compromise between what you can afford and what still places a good value on my work. My main purpose is to move this work, so you could also just walk away with a steal! Why not try it?
  2. I add on shipping cost so you can make an offer from anywhere in the continental US. 
  3. All the work so far has been original, but in the future I will offer some limited edition and fine art prints.
  4. I think everyone should own original artwork and while I know the value (time and cost) of making artwork, I am happy to make some work accessible for anyone and everyone that wants it.
  5. I want to turn Viewers and Fans of my artwork into Customers, and hopefully Collectors. I hope this will help to get your foot in the door. 
  6. I want to make buying original artwork easy, affordable, and/or accessible. I know it's not always that way.
  7. I want NYP to be mutually beneficial. I can make some dollars to support what I do and move some work that is filling my studio and you can adorn your walls with something you love and will enjoy forever.

Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. I'd love to hear your thoughts! You can comment or email me at beth@bethmeadows.com. 

Tricks of the Trade: Art Hanging

Beth MeadowsComment

I've been hanging a lot of artwork lately, for my own shows and in people's homes and offices. I don't want to give away all of my trade secrets, but I'll tell you one thing that's been a game-changer for me: 

 

When you drop a nail,

or a screw,

follow it with your eyes. 

 

You're welcome, young grasshopper.

#themoreyouknow

Melancholy and the Infinite Hopefulness

Beth Meadows1 Comment

It's been a little while since I last wrote. I've definitely been thinking about it, but I have had some good reasons for not having time. Here's what's been going on behind the scenes of With Bear Hands Enterprises, LLC:

First, I recently took a business class for nine weeks at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and while it was only one night a week, I went all out meeting with people to interview and even shadowed a company throughout the duration of the class. The time invested was so well worth it. 

It Don't Come Easy by Beth Meadows, inspired by how being an artist and trying to become a business person feels like domesticating a wild animal. Everything will be all right, majestic bear.

It Don't Come Easy by Beth Meadows, inspired by how being an artist and trying to become a business person feels like domesticating a wild animal. Everything will be all right, majestic bear.

I have also been looking for a house, and if you've ever gone down that road, you know it's super time-consuming. Fun, frustrating, lots to learn quickly.

The business class was wonderful. I loved the group of people in the class. I loved having the steps of planning a business spelled out for me in a simple way. I loved the motivation it gave me to work through some overwhelming and challenging issues that have plagued me for years. 

I went into it with a particular idea that I have not fully abandoned, but I have let go of for now.

That was the lesson a lot of us learned- running a business is all-consuming so it should be something you are fully invested in and fully passionate about. That may seem like a no-brainer, but it's really something you have to come to at your own pace.

This led me to a valuable truth I have always known but push away every once in a while out of fear, frustration, and a desire to be a sensible human being: I am an artist at heart and it's what I want to do more than anything. It's how I want to make a living.

(I cannot tell you how hard it is for me to even say that still. Ahhhh...)

But I have never fully put my all into it, nor have I had a very good plan to go by everyday. I have always had goals but not broken them down into smaller, more manageable steps. This class really helped me with that and I'm thankful. 

I see the small steps more clearly and am slowly but surely moving up, again, for what seems like the hundredth time. And I know more clearly where I'm headed and why, which is probably the most important aspect of running any business. Without the why, you can't fight the resistance that you will inevitably face over and over again*.

All this is to say, I highly recommend taking a class like this.

If you're anything like me, you're always dreaming of things you want to do with your time and in your career. We keep those thoughts in our head because if we were to start pursuing most of them, we'd realize they are unrealistic or not really what we want to do deep down. Taking a business class, or any class of interest, helps point you to where your heart wants to be in a shorter period of time, and that's not always something people want to realize so quickly.

In a lot of ways, the class for me was a little painful, stirring up some things I want to begin dealing with. So I started going to a counselor before the class ended.

As honest a person as I am, I am so easily distracted by anything and everything, and wonder if I am subconsciously, but intentionally, allowing myself to put off the things my heart really wants. I need a lot of help in this area, and so I'm taking it from any place I can at the moment.

Which leads me to the second thing I have been doing with my time: house hunting. 

I was actually so close to sealing the deal on a house a few days ago, but after much deliberation, I walked away.

In many ways, that house was my "dream" house. Honestly, I've had dreams about living spaces for years now and this house matched those visions in my head more than anything else I looked at. I really wanted it to work. 

Dreams are really hard because they aren't always realistic. It doesn't mean we shouldn't keep dreaming, but I've learned I need to let myself pursue something enough to let the infatuation subside and the reality to show through. I need to allow those two worlds to meet more often in my life. It's really hard, but I have hope it will get easier.

Now that the business class is over, I hope to start writing again. I'm also taking one day out of the week to work on all things art. Today is that day, so it's time to get moving. I can't wait to share what I've been working on soon...

* a constant mantra of Michael Hyatt

First Friday How To: Where to Show & Who to Contact

Beth MeadowsComment

There was a time not long ago when First Friday was just a small but wonderful spark of life in downtown Knoxville. Today, it is the night to be in downtown Knoxville. If you're an Artist, booking a First Friday show is the best way to share what you're making with Knoxville.

Since graduating from UT in 2007, it's been fun to witness its growth, and not only that, to be an active participant. If I had to guess, I'd say I've been a part of 50 First Friday shows in the past ten years, and I'd love to share some things I've learned along the way.

Showing artwork can be an intimidating venture if you've never done it before, but I want to convey just how valuable and simple it can be to schedule a First Friday show. I think it's safe to say that if you're an Artist in Knoxville, there is a venue for you.  

So what are the first steps to booking a show? Here are my suggestions:

1. Visit some venues and determine what places will be a good fit for your work. First Friday is a great time to do this, or any other time they are open will work.

2. Meet the owner or find out the First Friday contact for the venue. Some venues have volunteers who coordinate their shows, but most of the time, it's the owner. See below for as many venues I know about and their contacts. 

3. Visit their website to see if they have information on how to submit work for approval. If there isn't any information, contact the venue and start by asking them how to be considered.

I'll add and update the list below as often as I receive new information. It's a collaborative effort, so leave me a comment or email me at beth@bethmeadows,com with edits or additions.

KNOXVILLE FIRST FRIDAY VENUES:

1. The Emporium- Suzanne Cada: sc@knoxalliance.com; Visit their website.

2. The Central Collective- Dale Mackey: info@thecentralcollective.com 

3. The Tomato Head- Bethann DeGrow: jbdegrow@hotmail.com; They choose artists for the next year at the end of the previous year.

4. Rala- Alaina Smith: shoprala@gmail.com 

5. The Knoxville Visitor Center-

6. Gallery 1010 - reserved for UT students

7. The Fluorescent Gallery- David Wolff: davidawolff@gmail.com

8. Striped Light- Sarah Shebaro: info@stripedlight.com

9. The Hive- Rebecca Ridner: thehiveknox@gmail.com

10. Central Flats and Taps- 

11. Old City Java- Meg Parrish: meg@oldcityjava.com 

12. Good Golly Tamale- Beth Meadows: beth@bethmeadows.com

13. Magpies Small Hall Gallery- Beth Meadows: beth@bethmeadows.com

14. A1 LabArts- Visit their website. contact@a1Labarts.com

15. Preservation Pub

16. Coffee and Chocolate- 

17. Awaken Coffee- Matt Robbins: Go in and talk to him.

18. Tori Mason

 

Relationship Status with Facebook: On Very Thin Ice

Beth MeadowsComment

So how are we feeling about Facebook these days? I'd like to know.

Not too long ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and stopped on a friend's photo of mostly blue sky and the top of a tree. The caption proclaimed that after checking Facebook everyday for over a decade, she had decided to Deactivate. She was free!

I'm pretty jealous of her. 

I check Facebook less and less these days, but I still check it multiple times a day. I know it's an obsessive compulsion, so about six months ago, I took the app off my phone. It's helped, I guess, but now I just view it in my web browser, which now keeps me logged in. I don't know the exact numbers, but I probably have gone from checking it 100 times a day to 10 times a day. Big difference, still sad for how unfulfilling it is. 

So why don't I break up with Facebook? 

Ultimately, I've stuck with it for two main reasons: to keep in touch with old friends, some I may never see again, and because I have a Business Page. 

The distant friends are from my hometown or ones I met while traveling, mostly from studying abroad ten years ago. It's sort of fun to lazily re-connect every now and then with them. A "Memory" pops up. A foreign friend shares it, and everyone "Likes" it and we say, "Let's have a reunion!" (Like! Like! Like!) but that never happens. 

(Sidebar- I just opened Facebook and quickly closed it. A post for another day, but why do I do this while I'm doing things I want to be doing? Out with friends, in my studio, while I'm writing. No matter what good Facebook offers, this should be enough to make me quit.)

I also have a wildly unsuccessful Facebook Business Page. I decided to keep it so that when that one person every eight months searches for me on there, they will find me. And maybe the 50th person who does that will buy a lot of my artwork. You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket, fool!

But I'm really half-assing playing this game. Most of the time, I'm not really assing it at all, so ultimately, it just makes me feel bad, especially when I post something and get three likes. From two of my friends and my sister. (Y'all are so sweet, by the way. Love you!)

Over the past few years, I've placed myself under the tutelage of a couple of nerdy older men who have helped me tremendously. David Allen of Getting Things Done (changed my life) and now Michael Hyatt of the podcast This is Your Life (are you who you waaannnaaaa beeeeee!!!??? hahahha). I love them both dearly for what they have taught me. 

So Michael recently told me (I'm going to pretend we are BFF's) that he decided to limit his personal friends on Facebook and grow his Business Page. 

At first I thought, "Now this is a great idea, and I'm down. I want 250 personal friends (which means de-friending over 750) and I want to focus on growing my Business Page."

Just looked. He has 13,533 Followers. I have 382. I'm SO close! (lies down. sleeps for days.)

So I started the great De-Friending of 2016. But then I began to worry about who I might offend by doing this. A larger part of me doesn't care (because it's for the greater good), but the ever-conflicted part of me tells me I should. How can I de-friend a bunch of people and expect them to still support me as an Artist?

But here's the kicker, and I've thought about this for many, many years. When you have a business, your audience should be so much bigger and broader than your close community. Of course, the support from friends and family is so precious and appreciated, but it can also be misleading. I admit that at times, I've ignorantly based my confidence as an Artist on how supportive these people have been to me, but I can't survive as a business off of sweet and loving pats on the back. I need to exceed these bounds. I need to reach the millions of people I don't know (... that have money).

Artists put so much into what they make. The thought process, the research, the gathering of tools and materials, the hours of labor, the hours of installing. A lot of it is methodical process, but it also can be deeply emotional as well.

Then they must choose the five most effective ways (out of 500) to promote this thing that has taken them so long to develop. It's too hard and we're tired! (lies down. cries. goes to sleep.)

Back to Facebook...

Recently I heard two entrepreneurs say how ineffective Facebook has been for their businesses. I wonder how many other businesses feel this way.

I'll tell you who Facebook is good for. It is a wonderful place to be if you're a mom with kids, or you're pregnant, or you just got engaged, or you just had a baby. This is what the people want and these few are making bank with the Likes. 

But if we've learned anything, it is that a unique Like is the shallowest form of human connection and not all that satisfying at the end of the day. There doesn't have to be any Real Life Interaction, a thing we all are desperate for, to back it up. And for businesses, Likes don't necessarily mean monetary investment from the Likers, and I don't know if y'all know this, but money is pretty integral to running a business. I'll go so far to say, it won't work without it.

I don't have a clear conclusion about all of this yet, just a feeling of dissatisfaction. Facebook and I are growing apart, and I know it's not going to pull the trigger. It's behaving like a passive boyfriend who wants to break up with me but wants me to do it. Why are you such a jerk, Facebook?

I'd love to know how you're feeling about FB these day.

Maybe we can take the leap off and away from it together. We can hold real life hands while we do it. 

What could this breakup mean for us? I'm not sure, but I think it might look like tops of trees and limitless blue skies.

 

Money, Part 2: Retirement Living

Beth MeadowsComment

I will never retire.

Well, maybe...

We all daydream about what life will be like "on down the road," but I realized something a little surprising recently.

When I envision my future, I always see myself working in some capacity. Read in between the lines and what this means is that I don't see myself ever really retiring. 

THE VISION: One day, I shall have long gray hair, be dressed very smartly, working around younger, kind and talented people. I think of Grace Coddington or Iris Apfel as my older female role models.

I will own a business (or two) and make artwork, jewelry, and design clothes. I will sew impeccably, and the spaces in which I live and work will be bright, white, and clean, the atmosphere calm.

I'll probably wear a lot of Eileen Fisher.

Not only is it fun to imagine what the future will be like, it's also really valuable in terms of right now.

If you really believe you'll never retire, it motivates you to think about life right now more day-to-day. This is a good thing for my anxious heart that resides in our fear-mongering society. Just think about all of the insurance packages one person needs to buy (so they say). Health, car, house, flood, earthquake, business, general liability, business, phone, computer... Geez, Louise!

Don't get me wrong. It's very wise to plan for the future, but the fear of the unknown can really suck the joy out of today for most people. And for me (Artist on Tight Budget), it only incites terror because I'm not able to save as much as I "should." 

I subconsciously decided a long time ago that instead of working non-stop to save up or putting things off until "life slows down," I live today, right now, doing and supporting as many of the things (people, places) that I value. How I live today is how I want to live when I'm old. There's nothing virtuous about this- and I'm not saying it's for everyone- but it helps a person with sensibilities such as myself sleep better at night. 

And really when I say day-to-day, I mean week-to-week. I've learned it's more manageable to view doing all you want seven days at a time. So on top of paying bills and surviving as an adult, which is a full-time job in and of itself, here are a few things I make a point to accomplish or do each week, if not everyday:

  • cook meals for myself
  • talk to my family on the phone (because they are far away)
  • make plans with friends that don't just involve going to a bar or eating (two things I LOVE with all my heart BUT typically aren't memorable)
  • exercise outside: walk, hike, run 
  • write
  • make artwork
  • spend time on a hobby (currently sewing)
  • plan small trips and vacations
  • read
  • sit still
  • do nothing
  • stare into space
  • hold and pet cat (all day, every day)

This way of life changes everything. It transforms "what we are supposed to do" on its head. Retirement then is no longer this big thing that we wait for, that takes away from living a fulfilling life right now. It's also not something we need to stress out about if we're unable to save a lot right now.

If I'm saving a little each month and living each week well (working, playing, resting), I can live this way until I die, right? 

It may not be a full proof plan. Life is full of unknowns and I really know nothing about how adulthood works (so maybe don't listen to me), but this realization does at the very least help me worry less, which is good when your main pursuit in life is as fickle as Art, God bless it.

I don't know if things will pan out how I'd like them to, but I now view the time and energy I spend in my studio as an investment toward that long gray haired vision I wrote about above. This helps me worry less about living unconventionally- the up and down life of an artist with no benefits package protecting me from all of life's potential harms.

While we wait to see if the visions of our future selves pan out, let us retire to our porch swings, drink in hand, to stare at the light through the leaves, the fluffy neighborhood cats playing/fighting, the people passing by. Make your future old lady or man self proud. Cheers.

 

So here is what I want to write about:

Beth MeadowsComment

1. MY ARTWORK

For some reason it's become hard for me to sit down and write an artist statement, so much so, I didn't include one in my last show. I think it's fine to do without one if it's not coming easily, but I'd still like to share the backstory of my artwork, and it would be nice to do that informally here.  For example, I envision posting a photo of a painting and then making a list of all the things that influenced it, as opposed to writing out a small and formal essay (aka an artist statement). I like lists. I like them a lot. (See: This post)

2. TRANSPARENCY OF JOY & PAIN

I've been thinking about the potential disconnect between my social media account and Real Life and hope writing can bridge that gap.

I try not to relay negative things on social media because I don't feel like it's the best place for that. So I keep it light (instead of telling you how often I think about giving up making artwork or how many panic attacks I've had about money. You know, that kind of thing). 

At the same time, while I know deep in my heart that most people are also only putting their ***Best** on social media, it can be such a hard place to be in because we can't not compare ourselves to others. If we don't see the hard things in others' lives, we start to wonder if and why we are the only ones who are unhappy/ poor/ lonely/ fill in the blank. And I don't want to contribute to that either. On multiple occasions, people have come up to me in Real Life and told me I must be doing so well because that's what it looks like from Instagram. Oh, brother...

So I'm here to tell you, that just ain't true. My life is equal parts joy and struggle. Yes, I am doing well. And I am also prone to fits of panic, and a lot of other fun things. 

3. ENCOURAGEMENT

Through sharing challenges, struggles, fear, panic, frustration, etc., etc., my hope is that I can offer encouragement to others who are pursuing something they love or frustratedly daydreaming about it. We're all in the same boat here, the boat-of-not-knowing-what-the-heck-we're-doing (#illustrationidea). Yes, it can be wonderful to pursue a dream. Yes, it is also really painful. 

I deeply want to help artists, or anyone with creative endeavors, to jump the hurdles that are undoubtedly in front of them by sharing my experiences. 

4. INSIGHT AS AN ARTIST

I've had a little baby spark of a desire to start a lecture and How To series for artists and recent art grads in Knoxville. I'd love to talk about things that I've learned in my decade+ since school in hopes that others can bypass a lot of the pitfalls I faced.

I'd also like to share what I think Knoxville needs to help support artists and encourage artists to view themselves as savvy business people from the moment they cliche-ly throw that cap up in the air and saunter into the Real World. And just maybe, that insight could apply to people in other cities, too. 

I want to start developing some of those ideas here. 

5. MY GOALS

I'd like to talk about goals I have, which may be no fun for anyone else to read, but it will hopefully help me think through some things. Maybe you can help me with them?

6. STORY TIME/ MIXED BAG

I want to write for fun and for the challenge of it. I want to put words together, and I want to form sentences and paragraphs with those words to talk about intriguing things I come across in my life. They're all a part of my internal thought process that can well up in me when I'm in my studio in a very overwhelming way.

I wonder if writing will help tame that beautiful stallion with ADD (aka my brain) and feel like methodically filing away a mound of papers piled up on the floor of my mind. It's a tall order, but I'll try it.